Teach This Poem: "The Plain Sense of Things" by Wallace Stevens
Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.
- Project the image of Autumn’s Grey and Melancholy for your whole class to see. Leave the image up for several minutes and ask your students to write down what they see.
- Zoom in on a part of the image so your students can see more of the details. Again ask them to write down what they see.
- Pair share: What does zooming in tell your students about how the artist created the etching—not only in terms of the content, but also the feeling/tone?
- Project the poem “The Plain Sense of Things” by Wallace Stevens in front of the class. Ask your students to read it twice silently. The first time, they should just read it through. The second time, they should jot down the words and phrases that jump out at them, including things they do not, initially, understand.
- Ask two students, one after the other, to read the poem out loud to the class. Have the listeners add to their list of words and phrases that jump out at them.
- Ask your students to gather in small groups to discuss what they think the poem is about. Ask them to provide evidence from the things they’ve written down that supports their interpretation.
- Whole-class discussion: Is autumn the end of the imagination, or the beginning of it?